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Tour Director

  • Explore the world of Gilbert and Sullivan in the festival’s 30th anniversary year, guided by expert Tour Director and opera singer Donald Maxwell

  • Take in sparkling performances of The Gondoliers and The Pirates of Penzance staged by the professional National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company on the festival’s opening weekend

  • Enjoy a variety of talks and a fringe performance, all set in the picturesque spa town of Buxton

“The tour was outstanding due to the Tour Director with his knowledge of the operas and members of the cast”

- ACE customer on the 2023 International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival tour led by Donald Maxwell

Gilbert and Sullivan represent quintessential Victorian England. The brilliant, witty lyrics of W S Gilbert dazzle alongside the attractive melodies of Arthur Sullivan. In 2024, we look forward to an exciting and memorable tour to the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival as it celebrates 30 years of music-making in its “spiritual home” of Buxton, surrounded by the glorious hills of the Peak District.


Our tour, which takes in the festival’s opening weekend, will include professional performances of perennial favourites The Gondoliers and The Pirates of Penzance staged by the National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company. We will also enjoy a production of The Yeomen of the Guard on our final evening, presented by the Grosvenor Light Opera Company. Our expert Tour Director, operatic baritone Donald Maxwell, has long had a close relationship with the festival, and we will enjoy his insightful introductions to the operas during dedicated talks.


These performances will take place in Buxton’s delightful opera house. Originally designed by successful theatre architect Frank Matcham, the opera house - which opened in 1903 - is one of his few remaining theatres still surviving with many of its original decorative elements in situ, described by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as “sumptuous”.


In addition to the main events, we will feature a special guest talk with Professor Ian Bradley, an expert on Gilbert and Sullivan; an opportunity to meet one of the festival's Trustees, Bernard Lockett, for a further guest talk; and a fringe event, 'Flanders & Swann', featuring our Tour Director Donald Maxwell alongside Christopher Milton. We also hope to include an opportunity to meet some festival singers and a private recital (subject to confirmation).


We will stay at the four-star Best Western Plus Buxton Lee Wood Hotel, a comfortable hotel located in a Georgian building in Buxton, set in its own mature gardens.

Our Tour Director Donald Maxwell is an operatic baritone, director and lecturer. Donald has enjoyed a close relationship with the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival for many years, and has also been involved in the Buxton Opera Festival as performer, artist in residence and artistic director. He continues to perform with opera companies worldwide, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Donald looks forward to returning to the Gilbert & Sullivan Festival with an ACE group in 2024, to celebrate this landmark birthday edition of the festival during what will be his final ACE tour before his retirement from tour directing.


Tour Director Donald Maxwell writes:

“Buxton’s ‘theatre in the hills’ is the ideal venue for the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. The beautiful Matcham building has just the right intimacy for these comic masterpieces, and both theatre and town possess an Edwardian charm. The operas aren't, however, historical souvenirs, and I'm sure the 30th festival (a remarkable success story) will prove that ‘laughing song and merry dance’ will ‘leave you with feelings of pleasure’ from your trip to the Peak District!”

Tour Code

Fully booked - please contact us on 01223 841055 to be added to the waiting list

Included: accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, performances as described, three breakfasts, three dinners with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.

Not Included: travel insurance, twin/double room for single use supplement £150.

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